Civil Justice provides critical legal services to Maryland homeowners facing foreclosure through its Foreclosure Mediation Program. Since the summer of 2010, shortly after Maryland substantially revised its laws to allow for mediations for homeowners facing foreclosure, the program has assisted hundreds of homeowners who do not qualify for pro bono (free) representation in foreclosure mediations, but cannot easily afford an attorney for representation at foreclosure mediation.
Who is Eligible?
Maryland homeowners who have a foreclosure action on their primary residence are eligible for this program. For a flat fee of $500, homeowners will retain the services of a Maryland attorney to represent their interests at the foreclosure mediation.
Foreclosure mediations bring together the homeowner and the mortgage lender’s representative and allow them to negotiate potential modifications or other alternatives before an impartial administrative judge in an attempt to reach an agreement. Civil Justice’s Foreclosure Mediation Program is the only "reduced fee" or "low bono" legal services program supported by the State of Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development. The program fills a critical need for legal services for lower middle income Marylanders, who may otherwise be forced to navigate the often complicated and confusing foreclosure process without the benefit of experienced legal counsel.
Civil Justice: A Leader in Maryland Foreclosure Mediations
Civil Justice Network attorneys have represented over 200 homeowners at foreclosure mediations. These mediations provide an opportunity for homeowners to communicate directly with their lenders about alternatives to foreclosure with the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator.
For more information on Maryland’s mediation process, please visit the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Developement's website. If you are a homeowner needing assistance with a foreclosure and are interested in Civil Justice’s Foreclosure Mediation Program, please contact us at 410-706-5649, or email us at email@example.com.
Father Keeps Home and Son Enrolled in School
Civil Justice was contacted by Mr. Jones*, a Maryland homeowner who was behind in his mortgage payments, with arrears adding up. He had no knowledge of foreclosure laws in Maryland prior to contacting Civil Justice. Mr. Jones was connected with a Civil Justice Network attorney. The attorney helped him determine what documents needed to be submitted for the foreclosure mediation and was able to get the bank representatives to respond promptly to Mr. Jones’ questions prior to the mediation. At the mediation, with the help of his Civil Justice Network attorney, Mr. Jones was able to outline his situation to the lender, and was able to successfully submit a loan modification application soon after the mediation. Mr. Jones received a loan modification with an affordable three month trial offer, which was subsequently converted to a permanent payment plan. As of 2014, Mr. Jones is still in his home and is able to keep his son enrolled in the school of his choice. Mr. Jones stated:
“Now, looking back I don’t see how I could have considered going to foreclosure mediation without the help of Civil Justice staff and a Civil Justice lawyer advocating on my behalf. I know I would not have been able to successfully negotiate without an attorney.”
Mother Able to Stay in Home after Receiving Civil Justice Representation at Mediation
Civil Justice was contacted by Ms. Smith*, a homeowner looking for assistance with her foreclosure. She had not previously worked with a housing counselor, but wanted to try to work out a modification for her mortgage. Ms. Smith did not qualify for pro bono representation, but was interested in obtaining assistance through Civil Justice’s Mediation Program. She met with a Civil Justice Network attorney prior to her mediation to discuss her situation and to determine what she wanted to accomplish. Ms. Smith was able to pay her current mortgage payment but could not get caught up on some of the past due amounts that accumulated after she lost her overtime income. Ms. Smith and her Civil Justice Network attorney met with the mediator and representatives of her mortgage company. The Civil Justice attorney negotiated a forbearance plan that allowed Ms. Smith to make her existing monthly payments for three months before the loan was converted to a permanent loan modification that she could afford. Once all three payments were made on time, the foreclosure action was stayed, and after the final modification had been executed, the foreclosure action was dismissed. As of 2014, Ms. Smith still lives in the home, and is happy that “everything worked out.”
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
I cannot get my servicer to answer my modification requests. Will mediation help?
Yes. Mediation will offer you an opportunity to talk face-to-face with your servicer's representative and get a final answer to your request. In addition to the mediation, you should continue to reach out to the servicer both before and after the mediation to negotiate a positive outcome. If you request mediation, a foreclosure sale cannot occue until at least 15 days after the mediation takes place.
How long does the mediation process take?
Mediations are scheduled wothin 60 days from the homeowner's request. Lenders are not allowed to hold a foreclosure sale until at least 15 days after the mediation takes place.
Why should you hire an attorney to represent you?
Foreclosure is a legal process and the banks will have their lawyers at the mediation; to help your advocate for your rights, you will benefit from a lawyer on your side.
Is every homeowner entitled to a loan modification?
No. Not every homeowner will be able to obtain a loan modification.
What other alternatives to foreclosure can I achieve at mediation?
Borrowers may also be able to negotiate a forbearance, reinstatement, short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, or other opportunities for a homeowner to relinquish the property before a foreclosure occurs.
What if mediation does not settle the dispute?
You must present your legal defenses or claims to the circuit court to dispute the foreclosure within 15 days following the conclusion of the mediation. Civil Justice can assist you with a referral for these cases.